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Continuing professional distraction

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I'VE just returned – exhausted – from another excellent BSAVA Congress. My partners and I had looked at the advance programme when it dropped through the practice letter box a few months ago and agreed that the CPD on offer was, if anything, even better than in previous years. We had wrangled good-naturedly about who would go to what and ended up deciding that we would each have a full day there, using the practice badge in turn. This would mean that we all got a fair share of the lectures and wouldn't need to arrange locum cover while we were away.

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I arrived fresh and enthusiastic just after 08.00 on the Friday and was heading for the lecture halls when a friend from college hailed me. We hadn't seen each other for ages, so we decided to duck out of the first talk and made for the nearby coffee shop to catch up on the last five years over a latte or two.

It was after 10.00 before we reluctantly decided that we really must get on with the business of the day and made our farewells. Realising I had missed the start of the next lecture, I instead made for the exhibition hall and was grabbed as I entered by a drug rep. In fact, he has worked for the company that supplies our vaccines for longer than I can remember and he is now more a friend than a business acquaintance. We headed for his company's stand where he tempted me with their congress offers, plied me with chocolates and encouraged me to enter their free competition to win a bottle of champagne.

I finally had to go, as I really wanted to catch the lecture before lunch, but en route I chanced upon the Veterinary Defence Society stand. This reminded me that I had a query on the indemnity insurance for one of our part-time assistants, so I took the opportunity to sort this out, and also checked on a couple of details for my own cover, since we might be taking on a nearby kennels as a new client – a lucrative contract but one that might carry a few risks.

Points sorted, my stomach told me it was nearly midday, so I grabbed a packed lunch and headed for the canal-side to sit in the sun, using my congress bag as a useful cushion and enjoying the buzz as hundreds of other delegates did the same thing. In fact, the April sun was so warm and the scene so soothing that I must have nodded off for a few minutes, because I was suddenly aware that it was almost 14.00 and I hadn't actually been to any lectures yet.

Rooting around in my bag for the congress programme, I chanced upon a flyer advertising the chance to try a climbing wall which had been erected on an equipment company's stand, and decided to nip back into the exhibition hall, reasoning that it would only take a few minutes. The wall was amazing, and much harder than I'd anticipated; after several attempts I made it to the top, but then suddenly looked down and got a touch of vertigo. Frankly my legs were a bit wobbly when I got back to floor level, so I decided to get some caffeine.

Next to the coffee point I noticed one stand displaying a new flea product, with all sorts of claims, and took it upon myself to find out more. The sales pitch was pretty good, and the deal on offer very attractive, so I signed up to try a few cases.

Still eager to get to at least some lectures, I was then thwarted when a vet who I know well collared me and suggested a beer. There's nothing more soothing than talking shop and the beers just kept coming, so much so that when the Tannoy announced that the exhibition was closing for the day we decided to carry on the discussion at a nearby restaurant. The drug rep who I had met earlier in the day joined us (and very decently paid for the meal) so it was a convivial end to a great day.

The following week at our usual partners' meeting I told them how beneficial my day had been, emphasising how much I had achieved but carefully avoiding any reference to the lectures. I asked if they had enjoyed their time at congress and, while agreeing that it had been both entertaining and useful, they also seemed a bit reticent about which CPD topics had been most informative. I can't think why.

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